Dexter Lawrence
Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports

Giants defensive tackle Dexter Lawrence is entering the fifth and final year of his rookie contract. The same goes for Jets defensive tackle Quinnen Williams.

Both are up for big-money extensions after putting together career seasons in 2022. And, unfortunately for either front office, their asking prices may have just increased even more.

NFL Network’s Ian Rapoport reports the Titans have signed Jeff Simmons to a four-year, $94 million extension with $66 million guaranteed. That’s a whopping $23.5 million per year with $16.5 million guaranteed annually. This makes Simmons the NFL’s highest-paid interior defensive lineman aside from the Rams’ Aaron Donald, who earns $31.67 million per year.

Neither Lawrence nor Williams was ever supposed to surpass Donald in annual salary. Both were productive last year and proved to be dual-threat weapons with pass-rushing and run-stopping abilities on the interior. But Donald is one of the best in league history at the position.

The likely per-year benchmark for either player was instead Daron Payne’s salary. The Commanders defensive tackle signed a four-year, $90 million extension with Washington back in March, putting him at $22.5 million per year.

Now Simmons, at $23.5 million per year, is the probable benchmark. If both Giants general manager Joe Schoen and Jets general manager Joe Douglas want to keep one of their top defensive playmakers around, they’ll need to dish out at least $24 million annually in a new deal.

While both Lawrence and Williams are signed through next year, they will only become more expensive if they continue to shine. So extending them sooner than later would be financially appropriate for either team. And it could be a race to see who resets the (realistic, non-Aaron Donald) market first.

If the Giants sign Lawrence to a four-year deal worth around $96 million ($24 million per year), Williams might turn around a seek a deal of $25-26 million annually. After all, Williams recorded the same number of quarterback hits (28) as Lawrence last year but notched 12 sacks compared to Lawrence’s 7.5.

Right now, the Giants might be in a better position to win said race. Because re-signing Lawrence could be a top priority over figuring out the futures of safety Xavier McKinney and left tackle Andrew Thomas, both eligible for an extension. The Giants have already re-signed quarterback Daniel Jones, franchise-tagged Saquon Barkley, and added bodies to the wide receiver room. And the draft is still around three weeks away. So they have time.

The Jets, on the other hand, have bigger issues currently. They’re tied up in a lucrative trade deal set to involve star Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers. While the Jets and Packers have been in talks, no trade has come to fruition. And one might not until the draft’s first round on April 27.

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Ryan Honey is a staff writer and host of the Wide Right Podcast.